Rhinegold Photo credit: Catherine Ashmore
Kaufmann as Otello with Maria Agresta as Desdemona at the Royal Opera House, London in 2017

Simon Smith

Jonas Kaufmann: why Otello is ‘a hell of a part’

2:55, 29th May 2020

‘There are not many operas where I have difficulty coming back to the real world. Verdi’s Otello is one of them. (Don José is not easy, either, because you have just killed Carmen and it’s very emotional. )But with Otello, those last eight minutes are so intense and the feeling that you’ve murdered Desdemona for no reason is so real that it’s difficult to stand away and say, okay we did it. It takes at least three minutes before I feel almost normal again. It punches me particularly hard, Otello… It’s a hell of a part. Compared to Wagner, it’s not that long but it’s terribly intense… and it is crucial that you pace yourself, your energy, and that you don’t overdo it. Because the music strongly invites, indeed demands you do to do just that, to push and go ever further, beyond the point where it’s still healthy. This is what makes this role so difficult.

Jonas Kaufmann’s new studio recording of Verdi’s Otello is released by Sony Classical on 12 June.  Click here for your chance to win your a copy of this landmark new CD box set in Opera Now‘s prize draw.

Below: Kaufmann as Otello at London’s Royal Opera House


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